We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!

Turkey: Population Density, Distribution, and Settlement
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Population > Population Density, Distribution, and Settlement


Population density has increased along with the relatively rapid growth rate. For example, although Turkey had an average of only twenty-seven inhabitants per square kilometer in 1950, this figure had nearly tripled, to 72.5 persons people per square kilometer, by 1990. Population density was estimated at 78.5 people per square kilometer at the end of 1994. According to the 1990 census, the most densely populated provinces included Istanbul, with 1,330 persons per square kilometer; Kocaeli, with 260; and Izmir, with 220. The most lightly populated provinces included Tunceli and Karaman, with seventeen and twenty-four persons, respectively, per square kilometer. Turkey's overall population density was less than one-half the densities in major EU countries such as Britain, Germany, and Italy.

Although overall population density is low, some regions of Turkey, especially Thrace and the Aegean and Black Sea coasts, are densely populated. The uneven population distribution is most obvious in the coastal area stretching from Zonguldak westward to Istanbul, then around the Sea of Marmara and south along the Aegean coast to Izmir. Although this area includes less than 25 percent of Turkey's total land, more than 45 percent of the total population lived there in 1990. In contrast, the Anatolian Plateau and mountainous east account for 62 percent of the total land, but only 40 percent of the population resided there in 1990. The remaining 15 percent of the population lived along the southern Mediterranean coast, which makes up 13 percent of Turkey's territory.

In 1990 about 50 percent of the population was classified as rural. This figure represented a decline of more than 30 percent since 1950, when the rural population accounted for 82 percent of the country's total. The rural population lived in more than 36,000 villages in 1990, most of which had fewer than 1,000 inhabitants.

By 1995 more than 65 percent of Turkey's population lived in cities, defined as built-up areas with 10,000 or more inhabitants. The urban population has been growing at a rapid rate since 1950, when it accounted for only 18 percent of Turkey's total. The main factor in the growth of the cities has been the steady migration of villagers to urban areas, a process that was continuing in the 1990s. The trend toward urbanization was revealed in the 1990 census, which enumerated more than 17.6 million people -- more than 30 percent of the total population -- as living in nineteen cities with populations then of more than 200,000. The largest was Istanbul, with a population then of about 6.6 million, approximately 12 percent of Turkey's overall population. Two other cities also had populations in excess of 1 million: Ankara, the capital (about 2.6 million), and Izmir, a major port and industrial center on the Aegean Sea (about 1.8 million). Turkey's fourth and fifth largest cities, Adana (about 916,000 in 1990) and Bursa (about 835,000), have been growing at rates in excess of 3 percent per year, and each is expected to have more than 1 million inhabitants before 2000. Gaziantep in the southeast and Konya on the Anatolian Plateau were the only other cities with populations in excess of 500,000 in 1990. The ten largest cities also included Mersin (about 422,000), Kayseri (about 421,000), and Eskisehir (about 413,000).

Last Updated: January 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Turkey Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 59 of 206


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

(TL) Turkish Lira (TRY)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map